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10 Ways to Bounce Back after Failing the Bar and Pass on Your Next Attempt

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I have seen numerous attorneys fail the bar exam and give up practicing law completely. In fact, over the course of my career I have seen this process unfold more times than I can remember.

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I have seen graduates of Yale, Harvard and Stanford Law School fail the bar exam multiple times. It is often the smartest people who fail the bar exam – simply because they do not take the test as seriously as it needs to be taken.

 
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes
 

In prestigious and high-ranked law schools, professors and others do not even talk about the bar exam. The idea is that the students are so intelligent and special that failing is not even something that has been or will be contemplated. This is a very dangerous mentality.

In contrast, many lower-ranked law schools start talking to their students about the importance of the bar exam from the first day they step in the door. I used to be a professor at a low-ranked law school, and the school would deliberately flunk out a significant percentage of its class each year because it wanted to make sure it had high bar exam passage rates.

I remember receiving telephone calls from students asking me to raise their grades by just a “plus or minus” to ensure they did not flunk out. This was very disappointing, but there was a certain logic to it: the students who flunked out were generally not the hardest working; some just “did not get it.”

  Here are ten tips I strongly recommend law school graduates do in the event of failing the bar exam.

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About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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LawCrossing Fact #164: Use our “My Hotlist” tool to save a job and apply for it later!

 

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives


Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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